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Some Graduation Advice

From P. J. O'Rourke:

Don't moan. I'm not going to "pass the wisdom of one generation down to the next." I'm a member of the 1960s generation. We didn't have any wisdom.

We were the moron generation. We were the generation that believed we could stop the Vietnam War by growing our hair long and dressing like circus clowns. We believed drugs would change everything -- which they did, for John Belushi. We believed in free love. Yes, the love was free, but we paid a high price for the sex.

My generation spoiled everything for you. It has always been the special prerogative of young people to look and act weird and shock grown-ups. But my generation exhausted the Earth's resources of the weird. Weird clothes -- we wore them. Weird beards -- we grew them. Weird words and phrases -- we said them. So, when it came your turn to be original and look and act weird, all you had left was to tattoo your faces and pierce your tongues. Ouch. That must have hurt. I apologize.

So now, it's my job to give you advice. But I'm thinking: You're finishing 16 years of education, and you've heard all the conventional good advice you can stand. So, let me offer some relief.

Read on. Some of it actually is good advice.


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Habitat Hermit wrote:

Bullseye and particularly the ending.

Chris wrote:

I agree with a lot of what was said, but I disagree about the lawyer part. Becoming a lawyer and paying $100,000 in taxes won't do society any good because if you didn't take that $500,000 job, someone else would and pay those same taxes. You might do considerable good as a lawyer by defending property rights, keeping your company honest and making sure laws are obeyed, but not by paying taxes which would be paid by someone else anyway.

If you really want to increase the wealth of the nation and thereby increase the amount of overall taxable income out there, become an engineer or start a business that does things in a way, or uses new technology in a way, such that goods and services are manufactured and rendered more efficiently, more abundantly, and at lower cost.

Be on the team creating the next generation of efficient solar cells. Be on the team that creates cholesterol lipid and glucose testing equipment that is dramatically less expensive then current laboratory techniques. Anything that lowers the cost and increases the speed of food production, energy generation, health care, computation, communication, building and infrastructure construction, and transportation will generate wealth for this nation and more taxable income for defense, social programs and whatever else you think is a good cause.

But yeah, tying yourself to a tree will do little good for anyone.

Andy Freeman wrote:

> But yeah, tying yourself to a tree will do little good for anyone.

While someone tying himself to a tree may not do any good, it may be better than what said person would do if not tied to the tree.

It's important to remember that perfection is rarely one of the options and that some folks can always make things worse.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on May 13, 2008 7:24 AM.

Some Questions For John McCain was the previous entry in this blog.

News You Can't Use is the next entry in this blog.

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